They think government is inefficient and wasteful.

They’re socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

They’re stereotyped as lazy and entitled.

Born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, they’re the infamous Generation Y…or, Millennials.

They don’t make up even a fifth of the federal workforce today. But almost 43 percent of Boomers will retire within the next five years, so today’s young upstarts are on the cusp of taking control.

If you’re a federal manager or leader today, you probably work with Millennials on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean you know all you need to know about us. That’s right. I’m a Millennial too. So here’s what you need to know about managing your Millennial teammates:

Millennials Are Attracted to Government Work, But Do They Stay?
Last year’s OPM survey found that 86 percent of Millennials working in the government find the work they do important and two-thirds are satisfied with their jobs. That’s great news!

But the bad news is that federally employed Millennials are staying in government only 3.8 years on average, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Millennials prize the ability to be creative and innovative, but only one in three said creativity and innovation are rewarded in their agencies, writes Steve Watkins, editor of Federal Times. A whopping 82 percent of Millennials cite flexible working arrangements as a factor that influences their commitment and motivation, compared to only 58 percent for older employees, according to the Journal of Strategic Leadership.

By 2025, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the national workforce, according to the Brookings Institute.

While the demographics, culture, and attitudes have changed among generations, Feds have yet to change how they recruit and retain employees.

Millennials Are Mobile
We’re talking about a generation that cut the cord with cable in favor of online streaming, embraced online education in and out of the classroom, and see no need for a “home phone,” as we grew up with 32-gig devices in our pockets. So asking Millennials to sit idly at a desk for eight hours a day may not sit well.

Millennials simply don’t like structured schedules.

Agencies should continue to embrace telework and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs so Millennials can tailor their own work experience. If we can do a task in six hours instead of eight, then give us more challenging tasks. Millennials want flexibility with their work.

Since the launch of the Digital Government Strategy initiative, the government has invested $1.6 billion in mobilizing its workforce. Not only does mobility increase productivity, it can help agencies save $15.1 billion in real estate, according to Xerox.

Younger workers, like everyone else, are passionate about their work, but staring at a Windows XP for over 40 hours doesn’t lend itself to a healthy work-life balance. You don’t need to replace your desk chairs with yoga balls, but creating a more pleasant environment will lead to better work.

Implement e-learning and online training programs instead of in-person events, unless networking is paramount. But then again, Millennials are already good at that, at least, social networking…

Millennials Want Recognition
Millennials crave recognition. But that doesn’t mean you need to provide a participation trophy each time a Millennial comes to work on time.

Highlight a job well done with a group email, or let upper management know about something your Millennial underling created. Millennials are more likely to produce high-quality work if we feel valued. Remember, we revolutionized the self-portrait, ‘Poked’ our friends on Facebook, and discover and share breaking news as it occurs.

We don’t understand the point of quarterly meetings and six-month peer reviews. Tell us how we’re doing, as we’re doing it.

Millennials Need Technological Autonomy
Millennials are authorities on technology because we grew up around it. Experimenting with new innovations comes naturally. We employ technology continuously in our personal lives, and expect it to play a big part in our work, as well. When something doesn’t work, we expect to employ technology to deliver a solution.

To a Millennial, failing to use technology is a cardinal sin.

Listen to our suggestions. We want technology to make work more interesting and productive, not just for selfies…although there may be some #selfies.
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MeriTalk Staff